The George Mason University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning Mentoring Program is in its second semester and will soon begin recruiting mentors and mentees for the spring semester.

“We wanted to put together some kind of system where newly arriving LGBTQ students would have an easier time learning the ropes of what Mason is like and specifically what Mason can be like for LGBTQ students,” said Ric Chollar, associate director of LGBTQ Resources.

Chollar said some universities match students with faculty, some with alumni, but that it was decided a student-student approach was best for Mason.

“The basic objective we have is helping incoming students be successful here at Mason and doing that through having at least one key person they can turn to to show them the ropes, to ask questions, to be the safe person that they can get information from,” Chollar said.

Chollar said the mentoring program is still small, and that there are 12 to 14 people in the mentoring community, or, five pairs of mentors and mentees. The goal is to double the number of people in the program with each semester.

“I think the program has gone really well,” said Kristen Lucas-Stewart, a student intern who serves as a mentor coordinator. “We were very happy to see that we had quite a few matches with mentors and mentees, a lot more than we expected for the first semester. The matches overall are doing pretty well.”

Chollar said feedback has been positive and that most people who have commented on it say that it is a terrific idea and that there’s a need for a program like this at Mason.

“We’re still working out the kinks and the details about how successful the folks who were in it are feeling,” Chollar said. “We’ve got community- wide events where all the mentoring teems are invited to once-a-month programs where there’s some kind of content presentation that we think will be useful to them.”

Chollar said he encourages people in the program to contact each other at least once a week to keep track of the mentee’s progress. The mentees are typically freshman or transfer students.

“I wouldn’t say the program is an experiment or a test, but we’re trying things out this first year and perhaps revising and retailing it for future years,” Chollar said. “I think that we want to figure out how we can involve interested faculty, staff and alumni, particularly our LGBTQ alumni who have expressed an interest in wanting to be more in touch with our students and available to students.”

“I’m hoping to get a little more in depth with mentors and mentees and to talk more about what they’re doing,” Lucas-Stewart said, “as well as hopefully getting some more mentors and mentees and matching them up.”

Lucas-Stewart said the program was labor-intensive at the beginning, but that things came together nicely.

Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to e-mail or to call the LGBTQ Resources Office at 993-2702.